The events landscape has swung in a pendulum like fashion over the last couple of years.
Pre the COVID-19 pandemic the lion share of events that were taking place globally were physical with people in many cases travelling far and wide to meet for all manner of reasons.
When the restrictions hit the industry like a juggernaut the immediate switcht was to meet online, in fact it was the only way to communicate and run events in tandem.
Overnight the virtual meetings industry went into overdrive and virtual meetings became essential through necessity.
Fast forward several months and the roadmap out of the current restrictions will see some major meeting destinations across the world start to produce and run events this summer.
Many have already done so under testing guidance, successfully running events for several thousands of people.
We can confidently say that plans for a return to large scale events are fully underway.
So what have we learnt from the recent past? Has the meteoric rise in digital events forged the future for how we meet and interact with each other? One thing is for sure the technology in the virtual space has come on leaps and bounds, the functionality and engagement that’s available has made online meetings both enjoyable and a much more engaging experience for organisers and attendees alike.
The upshot and major learning is that many of our clients are now conducting and organising hybrid events.
Taking the benefits from the digital capabilities coupled with the romance and atmosphere of meeting in person and seeing the whites of peoples eyes makes for a heady blend of benefits and takes the best from both worlds.
If you are looking for some guidance and help with what to consider when producing a hybrid event, here are our top tips coined from the insights we have gathered from running these events with our clients.
1. Internet connection.
It seems to be the most obvious place to start right? However this can be overlooked and with devastating consequences.
Firstly and foremostly ensure your connection is ‘fit for purpose’ and the venue understands what capabilities and bandwidth is required for your specific event.
2. Put yourself in the shoes of the physical and remote attendee
When producing the event remember that the foot fall comes in 2 very different ways, those physically on the showfloor and those attending remotely that will have a very different perspective and view of the event. Ensure all features, sessions and opportunities are available and presented correctly to the attendee.
Alienating one profile or delivering content in a way that’s clunky or jar’s will kill off any of the benefits you set out to achieve by running a hybrid event in the very first place.
3. Engage with your audience.
Choose a platform that allows your speakers to live stream the content to the remote audience digitally and then in turn allows those hybrid off site visitors to, not only feel part of the event but also, participate remotely in Q&A’s, surveys, polls etc.
4. Facilitate networking
Let participants, exhibitors and speakers meet and talk with each other directly through the platform.
Facilitate interaction through breakout exhibition halls, 1 to 1 networking rooms that can flex up to 50 participants with video and slide sharing if required.
5. Make it fun with gamification
Motivate your attendees to take part in games and online sessions at your hybrid event, this will keep attendees captive during the event and replace the experience you would have if you’re at an event physically.
Many event platforms have this functionality now and even entry level games like collecting points for taking part in an activity or rewards for completion of a tasks have proved invaluable at adding value to the experience of the attendee and real insight into the true engagement levels of the event for the organiser
6. Make use of the event data
Make use of the data and analytics made available by having a digital footpath present from the event.
Simple metrics like who has attended the event all the way through to who had the most meetings at the event or which of your live streaming sessions were most viewed may provide intelligence to further improve and understand the event going forward.
In summary, these top tips should stand you in good stead for your future events if looking to incorporate a hybrid element, bare in mind that some people prefer to meet online while others are happier in person, by having both options available whatever your presence the world is your oyster for attending events irrespective of location or personal preferences.
Making your event hybrid will allow you to cater for all.